Anthr 102 Lecture Notes 9 - Exchange and Personhood II...

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1 Exchange and Personhood II Class 9 The Gift Gift-exchange societies: societies where the gift, not the market, is the primary medium of exchange In gift-exchange societies compulsion/obligation/ desire to give, to receive, to reciprocate A mix of interest and disinterest, altruism and desire Parallels in Modern Capitalist Euro- American societies Why do we give and receive engagement rings? Mixture of disinterest and interest Mixture of person and thing Mixture of debt and obligation
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2 The importance of reciprocation Why do people feel it is humiliating to accept “charity” from other people? Why are international aid agencies often resented? One reason: these are supposedly “free gifts”: No possibility, obligation of reciprocating. Giver putting itself outside of mutual ties It becomes just about the thing, not the relationship Therefore it “dehumanizes” the recipient The Gift is a “total social fact” Reciprocity is a form of “law”
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Anthr 102 Lecture Notes 9 - Exchange and Personhood II...

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